What is My Skin Type and What Products Should I Use?
Find out once and for all.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:50 AM
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Your mom was right: You are a special snowflake, my dear. And that uniqueness also extends to your skin, too. Each person’s skin is completely different, so it’s hard to box you into a few categories—but, we’re going to try to provide some guidance to help you discover your skin type so you can care for your skin based on your specific issues and needs. So let’s jump right in.
First and foremost, let’s assess your daily concerns to learn what type of skin you have. Celebrity aesthetician Renée Rouleau believes there are nine different skin types, beyond just the usual “oily, dry, combination” options you usually see. “Everyone doesn’t fit into just one box, so it is important that your skincare routine is based on each individual’s unique needs,” she says.
“Every person is different and many different factors go into healthy skin: diet, stress, sleep, and digestion, to name a few,” says CAP Beauty aesthetician Amity Speigel. “When we see clients at CAP, we try to look at the whole person instead of simply trying to diagnose their skin. Often, a skin imbalance is rooted in an imbalance within the body and is manifesting itself on the skin. Your skin is your largest detoxification organ, and it can change with the seasons.”
Read below from the nine types to assess which one you are, then jump below to get your treatment plan.
Constant, severe breakouts (several new blemishes a day), including blackheads and cysts, extremely oily and clogged pores? You’re
Occasional breakouts, oily, and clogged pores (mostly in the T-zone), and wanting to address aging skin?
Sensitive skin (aka becomes red and flushed easily, getting tight, and irritated by harsh products), that is also oily, with consistent breakouts?
Both oily and dry skin, with sensitive tendencies, and occasional breakouts?
Sensitive skin and dehydrated, with consistent redness, and wanting to address aging skin?
Fairly normal (lucky!) with the desire to address aging and tired skin?
Dry skin needing hydration, and wanting to tackle aging skin?
Dry, maybe even previous sun-damaged skin, and wanting to address aging skin?
Dry, sensitive skin that reacts with redness (or maybe even rosacea)?
Got your skin type or types (you can sometimes cradle between two, or it can change as you age or with the seasons)?
Great, let’s jump on to which type of products would be best for you.
First, why should you be concerned about your skin type? “The routine you have and products you use on a daily basis are an integral part of having beautiful skin,” says Rouleau. “For example, many people think they have dry skin and will treat it that way, but actually their skin is dehydrated and that is treated differently. Knowing your skin type helps one to navigate through these situations to ensure they’re giving skin exactly what it needs.”
“For all skin types I recommend never overly cleansing or stripping your skin,” says Speigel. “Find a cleanser that cleans without stripping. Use a toner that addresses your specific skin care need (hydration, breakouts, or brightening, for example). Apply a face hydrator—either an oil or moisturizer—to protect your skin during the day. Use SPF daily. For all types of skin, take time to cleanse, tone, moisturize, and apply SPF. I think simplicity can also be a good reminder for clients. Sometimes less really is more for skin, and reducing your steps or removing a lot of acids and fragrance can be beneficial for healthy skin.”
Skin Type 1
Oily, clogged pores, severe breakouts all-over
“Oily, problem skin requires a careful combination of AHA and BHA pore-cleaning exfoliants, along with antiseptic botanicals like natural tea tree and witch hazel to effectively reduce breakouts,” says Rouleau. “This routine helps to disinfect, calm, control oil, and clear clogged pores without causing irritation or drying out the skin. Your problem skin will be clear, more even-toned, healthy and balanced with fewer blemishes.”
Try out: Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel, $54
Skin Type 2
Oily, combination, occasional breakouts, want to address signs of aging
“Combination, blemish-prone skin in need of anti-aging requires a careful blend of non-drying, pore-clearing exfoliants with hydrating antioxidants and skin-brightening botanicals,” says Rouleau. “This will bring a perfect balance to your skin. Ingredients like natural elderberry, stable Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid will reveal clear, healthy, and radiant skin with fewer visible lines and wrinkles.”
Try out: Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel, $86.50
Skin Type 3
Oily, combination, sensitive, consistent breakouts
“Oily, combination, sensitive skin prone to acne and clogged pores requires a careful blend of antibacterial and smoothing BHAs to deliver maximum blemish-clearing benefits without leaving the skin feeling tight, dry, or irritated,” says Rouleau. “Soluble beta glucan and natural witch hazel offer a calming effect to strengthen the skin from within to prevent future breakouts. The added benefit of oil-free hydration will give the skin a perfect balance.”
Try out: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, $80
Skin Type 4
Oily, combination, sensitive, occasional breakouts
“Red, combination, and sensitive skin prone to breakouts requires a careful blend of pore-cleaning BHAs, along with healing ingredients like willow herb extract and natural elderberry to deliver gentle blemish-clearing benefits without leaving the skin feeling tight, dry, or irritated,” says Rouleau. “Your skin will look and feel calm and balanced with a newly refined clarity and smoothness.”
Try out: Origins Original Skin Matte Moisturizer with Willowherb, $34
Skin Type 5
Normal, sensitive, red, want to address signs of aging
“Red, sensitive, dehydrated skin showing the signs of aging requires a careful blend of smoothing exfoliants and calming bioactive ingredients to soothe and strengthen the skin from inside out,” says Rouleau. “High concentrations of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (the no-sting form of Vitamin C), white tea, and red marine algae provide incredible anti-aging nourishment to reveal smooth, calm, and comfortable skin with less visible redness.”
Try out: Odacite Synergie(4) Immediate Skin Perfecting Beauty Masque, $59
Skin Type 6
Normal, want to address signs of aging
“Normal, dehydrated skin showing the signs of aging requires high concentrations of AHAs to boost cellular turnover and potent antioxidants to brighten the complexion and prevent environmental damage,” says Rouleau. “Extracts of stable Vitamin C, peppermint, and rosemary are used to bring a healthy and beautiful glow with a newly refined smoothness.”
Try out: Renée Rouleau Advanced Resurfacing Serum, $84.50
Skin Type 7
Dry, tired, want to address signs of aging
“Dry, aging, tired-looking skin in need of sun-damage repair requires high concentrations of AHAs to boost cellular turnover and firming peptides to allow a tightening deep within the skin,” says Rouleau. “Energizing ingredients like rosemary, ginseng and red rice culture extract work to increase oxygenation and encourage a healthy glow. Your skin will be moist, firmer-looking and exceptionally smooth with a newly refined radiance.”
Try out: Pai Skincare Rice Plant and Rosemary BioAffinity Tonic, $56
Skin Type 8
Dry/Sun Damaged/ want to address signs of aging
“Dry, sun-damaged skin with loss of tone requires high concentrations of repairing AHAs to boost cellular turnover, bioactive peptides to allow a tightening deep within the skin and nourishing lipid-rich oils to provide needed moisture,” says Rouleau. “Your skin will be exceptionally smooth and supple with less visible wrinkles.”
Try out: Osea Essential Hydrating Oil, $68
Skin Type 9
Dry/Sensitive/Red/ want to address signs of aging
“Dry, red, sensitive skin with visible lines and wrinkles requires a high concentration of barrier-repair, lipid-rich natural oils and comforting botanicals to soothe and strengthen the skin from inside out,” says Rouleau. “White tea, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (the no-sting form of Vitamin C), and bioactive peptides provide comforting anti-aging nourishment to reveal smooth and calm skin with less visible redness.”
Try out: Renée Rouleau Vitamin C&E Treatment, $65.50
Want just the basics? CAP Beauty wants that, too (pairing down to the basics is kind of their speciality). They recommend starting with a serum based on your skin type.
“I think serums are a must for everyone except maybe the skincare minimalist,” says Speigel. “A must for someone experiencing dryness or dehydration would be a hydrating serum. Choose a serum with hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that binds moisture to the skin. If you are experiencing breakouts you may want a spot treatment, a refining serum or retinol serum. A retinol serum would be appropriate for all skin types if your concerns are fine lines, loss of elasticity, hyperpigmentation or breakouts.
“Serums can be layered beautifully morning and night. A Vitamin C serum can help with brightening or firming and protection from sun damage. I think it’s important to prioritize your skin concerns so you can properly address them.”
Try out: Kypris Antioxidant Dew, $67
Read more about skincare best-of:
The Exotic Ingredient That Will Save Your Winter Skin
Epic Beauty Tricks From Our Favorite Girl Bosses
Everything You Need to Know About Caring for Sensitive Skin
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